Caller You Say What? Questions About Queries

By Terreece M. Clarke

I always wanted my own talk show :0) Today I’m going to answer a few of the great questions I’ve received:

Rupa Says:

Hi Terreece,
Off topic – but I wanted to return to the query challenge. (Yes, I am working on it!)
I have spent some time studying query letter tips and sample queries online. I have never done this before and want to learn to do it right.
I have a few questions –
Is it absolutely necessary to mention in the query some of the names of the people I will be talking to and the quotes I will be using in the article? I guess names and quotes do add some personality and interest and convince the editor that I actually am capable of doing the research…But currently I don’t have the sources or quotes, although I will be getting them before starting the article (If I get chosen to write!) So, is it ok to leave that part out in the query or should I first work on the sources and quotes?

Hi Rupa, thanks for the question. It’s not necessary to include exactly who you will interview. While yes, it does give the query an extra kick to list a respected expert or someone who’s recently published a book on the subject, it is also okay to list a general roster. “I will interview an expert in the field of origami as well as a member of the National Origami Organization,” one way to leave yourself open to some wiggle room.

Nina Says:

Hi Terreece,

This may be off topic. But I am looking for some answers. I am starting my query process, I have never been published in a print magazine. I have read that a great way to break into a magazine, would be to interview an expert. My issue is, how do you come up with questions that are news worthy? For example I want to query a magazine about a natural health supplement. How can I construct a solid interview? Any help would be appreciated.

Hi Nina! A great place to start would be to research current news on the health supplement. What do proponents of the supplement say about it? What about those who dispute its use? You can also think about it in terms of the magazine’s focus. For a parenting magazine you could interview an expert in natural medicine and its affects on pregnancy or use while breastfeeding, for a male fitness magazine the emphasis could be on performance enhancement – and I mean athletic, not the other kind, though if you find information on that it would be a good angle! Find an angle that appeals to your publication and construct an interview around the angle. Remember to be flexible during the interview because there are times you never know where the interview will take you.

Got a question about writing? Working on the query challenge & need some help? Email me or post your questions below!


  1. says

    Hi Terreece,
    Uncanny. I was just working on a query last night and had the same question as Rupa. Then, this morning, I pop over to FWJ and there’s my answer. Securing the experts before landing the assignment seems like putting the cart before the horse. Thanks for the insight. Maybe you do have a talk show in your future!

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